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Annual Round-up of the No-Cow Cattle Company

W. M. Emery

Years ago, when the citizens of Clayton were still depending on the ever faithful Dobbin as a means of local transportation, and the automobile had not yet been introduced in the town, the town people organized a company known as the “No-Cow Cattle Company,” whose business it was to provide plenty of entertainment and amusement for its members.

The company held a meeting once a year at the old Otto ranch west of Clayton. This meeting was in the form of an Annual Round-up. A chuck-wagon was taken to the grounds designated, loaded to the top with good things to eat, as eating was the hardest work on this round-up.

Day herders were chosen to ride herd on the horses; each herder being on duty for two hours. But woe be the herder whose best girl was in the crowd. He was usually put on guard and then – quite unintentionally but very thoroughly- forgotten.

One young man was left out until after four o’clock in the afternoon. He then turned the herd loose and came to the wagon ready to whip the first man he saw or the whole crowd, if need be. Another man was so completely forgotten that the company had all returned to town before he was given one thought. Needless to say that all of the young men who received this treatment were not very congenial to the rest of the crowd for a few days.

The dearest memories of these Annual Round-ups usually linger around the great feasts which were held. Coffee and meat were cooked in camp by the men. Sometimes barbecues were held; beef and mutton both were served on these occasions. Again fried steak was the main dish, but always there was a large quantity of sweet corn, salad, pickles, olives, fruit, cake, pie, ice cream, coffee, and every other delicacy that could be thought of.

On one round-up fried chicken headed the menu. Bob Turnpin was chief cook, with Doctor Olbeter his able assistant. The two men fried chicken for hours. After the meal was over the ladies of the party were in distress. The clothing worn in those days was not intended for appetites of picnic proportions.

Grain sacks were obtained and holes were cut in the bottom and on either side, making very serviceable, if not very beautiful kimonos. There were given to the ladies with the instructions to go to the creek and change their clothes.

In a short time the ladies returned looking more like a crowd of scare-crows from a corn field than dignified city ladies, as they were supposed to be, but all were in the highest spirits and ready to devour more chicken and ice cream.

No doubt any self respecting cow would have torn down all the fences trying to get away if she had seen this parade; and again, there is no doubt that if a cow had entered the pasture during one of these Annual Round-ups of the No-Cow Cattle Company, the entire company would have torn down the fences trying to get away from her.

But it was great fun while it lasted. Then the automobile became the chief mode of transportation, and the people could not travel fast enough with the horse and buggy. No automobile was allowed at the Round-ups, so it was not long until the company disbanded, and the Annual Round-ups of the No-Cow Cattle Company became just a pleasant memory, but the old timers will tell you that “those were the good old days.”


Sources of information:

Olbeter, Dr. R. M., Clayton, New Mexico. An early resident of Clayton, and one of the founders of the No-Cow Cattle Company.

Kuhns, Mrs. Billy., Clayton, New Mexico. Mrs. Kuhns was the daughter of Buck Miller, an old settler and cowboy in Union Co. Interview to Emery, January 28, 1937.